Nikon D3X Replacing the D3 as Nikon’s flagship D-SLR, the full-frame D3x, now almost a year old, was the eagerly anticipated evolution of Nikon’s solid D3. On the exterior, the D3x is identical to the D3. The build, interface and many of the features so familiar to D3 users have been carried over directly to the D3x. Underneath the hood, however, there are a few substantial improvements that make the $3,000 price hike reasonable, including a brand-new sensor and a 16-bit processing pipeline with your choice of image file capture at 14-bit (16,384 tones) or 12-bit (4,096 tones) for incredibly high picture quality and subtle tonality.
Leica M8.2 Leica and the little red dot that serves as its logo are synonymous with a certain photographic mystique—and phenomenal optics. As the name implies, the Leica M8.2 is the sequel to the M8, Leica’s initial foray into digital. The M8 itself, released in 2006, continues the traditional aesthetics and minimalist elegance of the analog M Series, which goes back more than 50 years.
Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III While many of the features of the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III have trickled down to the 5D Mark II, the EOS-1Ds Mark III model still offers photographers professional features and functionality that the 5D Mark II does not. The 1Ds Mark III is the flagship D-SLR of the Canon EOS line, and as such, everything about it is designed to offer top-of-the-line performance, speed and image quality.
Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 With a brand-new 14.2-megapixel Exmor APS-C CMOS sensor and a brand-new BIONZ processor, not to mention a host of new features previously seen only in top-tier D-SLR models, the recently announced Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 offers pro-level functions, phase-detection focusing and extended live-view benefits.
Sigma SD14 Most image sensors don’t see color; they see brightnesses. To get color data, conventional sensors used in other D-SLRs place a Bayer filter array over the pixels, such that each pixel is covered by a red, green or blue filter. Data for the other colors is provided for each pixel via interpolation using complex proprietary algorithms.
Canon EOS 5D Mark II With the same resolution as the Canon EOS-1Ds Mark III at less than half the price, the full-frame EOS 5D Mark II isn’t Canon’s flagship model, but it may as well be. Featuring a few important new items, like HD video capture and a high-resolution, 21.1-megapixel sensor, the 5D Mark II also offers a variety of improvements over its predecessor, the 5D.
Sony Alpha DSLR-A850 Sony’s Alpha DSLR-A850 is the first camera to bring full-frame digital photography under $2,000. Sony has accomplished this benchmark by paring down the feature set of its flagship A900 model. For $700 less, the A850 offers almost everything that the A900 does, including a 24.6-megapixel Exmor CMOS full-frame sensor, Dual BIONZ image processing, multi-stage noise reduction (including analog noise reduction on the Exmor sensor itself) and SteadyShot image stabilization, with some carefully chosen sacrifices.
Pentax K-7 Pentax’s newest D-SLR builds on the strong points of the K20D and adds lots of new features. The K20D’s 14.6-megapixel CMOS sensor (codeveloped with Samsung) has been revamped to allow Face Detection Live View and HD video recording. A new PRIME II imaging engine works with the sensor to improve image quality, speed operation and enable the new features.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GH1 Okay, we know it’s not a true SLR (as a Micro Four Thirds camera, it lacks the mirror and pentaprism), but it looks and shoots like one, and takes interchangeable lenses. And it brings to fruition the promise of the original Four Thirds System: dramatically smaller cameras. The GH1 is noticeably smaller than the smallest true D-SLR. The GH1’s 12.1-megapixel Live MOS sensor is the same size as standard Four Thirds System sensors (17.3x13.0mm); it’s the cameras that are “Micro,” not the image sensors.
Olympus E-3 This is actually Olympus’ pro D-SLR, but its price puts it squarely in the midrange category. The E-3 combines pro-camera ruggedness, performance and versatility with relatively compact size. It succeeds Olympus’ E-1; there was no E-2 model.
Nikon D300S Nikon made a really good thing even better when it created the D300s by adding a number of useful new features to its very popular 12.3-megapixel D300 model.